The Lorenz family has been at the center of litigation in multiple court cases in the United States. In May 2021, they had two separate opinions issued in two separate cases. This is aside from the custody case pending in the German courts. Mr. and Mrs. Lorenz married in 2000 and have two children. The family resided in Michigan until 2014 when they moved to Germany. Mr. Lorenz returned to Michigan with the two children on July 21, 2020. On October 26, 2020 (just over 3 months later), he filed for an initial child-custody determination from the Michigan family court. The court dismissed the custody case, finding that Michigan was not the “home state” of the children. He appealed. On November 25, 2020, Mrs. Lorenz filed a Hague Abduction return petition in the Michigan federal court. Mr. Lorenz filed a motion to dismiss the Hague Abduction return petition.
On May 11, 2021, a federal Magistrate judge recommended that Mr. Lorenz’s motion to dismiss Mrs. Lorenz’s Hague Abduction return petition be denied (that recommendation was confirmed on June 2, 2021). Mr. Lorenz argued that he was not properly served with Mrs. Lorenz’s petition, with the papers left on his doorstep. Mrs. Lorenz filed an affidavit from a third party claiming to have personally served Mr. Lorenz. Construing the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party (Mrs. Lorenz), Mr. Lorenz’s argument failed. Furthermore, Mr. Lorenz showed no prejudice and no lack of notice of the lawsuit. Mr. Lorenz also argued that Mrs. Lorenz failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted. But, Mrs. Lorenz’s petition properly alleged facts that make out a prima facie case for the return of a child. Mr. Lorenz also argued that Mrs. Lorenz consented to the children remaining in the United States indefinitely, however, neither party can point to any caselaw that would address this exception to return at this premature stage in the case. The parties have yet to conduct discovery or present evidence.
On May 20, 2021 in an unpublished opinion, the State of Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of Mr. Lorenz’s custody suit for lack of jurisdiction. The UCCJEA typically treats other countries as sister-states, but for in rare circumstances. Germany was the “home state” of the children, and Mr. Lorenz did not demonstrate that Germany declined jurisdiction.
Presumably, the Hague Abduction return petition will now proceed.